Monday, January 30, 2012

A Superbowl Guide for Wives

In just a few short days the biggest game of the NFL season will be upon us. There will be Superbowl parties across the land which means that non-football watchers will be forced to endure the sport, perhaps for the first time in a year.

I don't want to be sexist, often men don't know anything about sports and that's fine. I'm just speaking from my experience where I like football and my wife doesn't care. So if I use language that sounds like women don't know anything about football or sports, that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that my woman doesn't know much about sports.

Get an idea of the basics. American football is like no other sport in the world, so getting a sense of the basic rules will be helpful. Check out How American Football Works for a good overview. You don't need to be able to call out a nickle-blitz package when you see the defense come on to the field (I can't even do that), just know the difference between 1st down and 4th down. It'll give you a better understanding of why people are yelling.

Find the stories. Because there are people involved, there are emotions and stories that lead up to game-day. After 9/11 the Patriots were "destined" to win as a representation of the American spirit. After Katrina, New Orleans was the emotional favorite to demonstrate the resilience of the city. This year it's New England versus New York - that rivalry has been heated and emotional in baseball (Red Sox vs. Yankees) and looks to be no less heated on the football field. You can also find out more about the individuals. A good place to find the story behind the stats is on ESPN's Page 2.

Ask for an explanation. Your spouse will be happy to explain things to you, if you ask at the right time. It's probably not a good idea to ask in the middle of the game when everyone is trying to pay attention. Rather, ask before the game. You can watch reruns of classic games on the NFL network or you can catch repeats of recent college games on ESPN 3. Watch some, or all, of a game and ask for an explanation of what's going on. Your spouse will enjoy the chance to share what they enjoy with you and it will help you enjoy the Superbowl better.

Place a Bet. You shouldn't put large sums of money on the game, but wagering something can make the game more interesting. Put $5 on who will win, or get more creative. Bet doing dishes or laundry for a week. Wager on the last digit of the scores at the end of the half and at the end of the game. Guess who score first or which act will mess up during the half-time show. Draw numbers from a hat and if that player does well, then you get points and the person with the most points wins the bet. However you set it up, betting on the game can make it a lot more fun to watch. Here are some great party ideas.

Party. Ignore the game if you just can't get into it. Leave the room (until the commercials come on) and talk with friends. Enjoy the food and atmosphere of a party. While you do this, be considerate of the people who want to watch the game. Go in the other room and don't make so much noise that they can't hear the game (probably don't practice your drum-line).

Go Out. If it's just that bad, you can go out and find something else to do while the big game is playing at your house. Grab brunch, hit up a sale or go to a show. Enjoy yourself. It's not bad to enjoy separate things from your spouse. Give each other space to have a great day and then come back together and swap stories.

What tips do you have for surviving the Superbowl for non-sports fans?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Get off the Phone when You're on a Date

One of the 5 Love Languages is Quality Time, which means that spending meaningful time with your spouse is a way to show love. The problem is we're often in the same place at the same time without being present. Smartphones, iPads, tablets, eBook readers, iPods and laptop computers all make it possible for us to be in the same physical space, but mentally checked out.

Andrea and I had a good moment the other day. We went out to eat and we were sitting in a restaurant talking. She got a text message, checked her phone and started to reply (that's not the good part). I was able to say: "I don't feel very respected when you stop talking to me to check your phone." She was quick to apologize (it's a practices that annoys her when I do it) and we were done with the conflict (that was the good part). We started talking about the appropriateness of using phones when we're together which helped us to understand each other better.

We came up with a few rules that work for us and help us to have better time being present with each other. First, no phones on dates. If we're dating each other, we don't need to check Facebook or respond to text messages. Second, when we're engaged with each other, like being out to eat or talking while in the car, if a text comes in, we just need to say, "Excuse me, I got a text, can I check that?" Similar to the way that we would deal with any other interruption of a conversation. But, when we're both just having some down-time after work in the evening, we'll be on our phones or computers while watching TV (the ultimate zone-out).

How do you deal with keeping your quality time distraction free?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Politics in Marriage

In marriage you share everything. You share a home, money, life and even politics. That's not something that people often talk about at the wedding ceremony. The officiant probably didn't say: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and men to figure out which political party is right on the issues." You didn't vow to stay married: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in Republican primaries, until death do you part.

But once the ceremony is over, life starts to creep in. And, in a presidential election year, a part of that life is politics. Whether you're firmly political or staunchly apolitical, you have a stand on the issues and so does your spouse. If you share political views, that's great and it will probably help you to unite on other things in your marriage.

My father-in-law loved to say, "If two people agree on everything; one of them isn't necessary."

It's likely that you don't agree on every political issue. You might have the biggies in common, but there are bound to be differences. My wife, Andrea, and I are pretty close in our beliefs, but our differences led us to vote for different candidates in the last presidential election. We've talked about it, and we'll even get passionate about it. What we keep in mind, is that we aren't defined by our political views. Even though we come to different conclusions, we can still come together and find unity (even when we vote for different people).

How do you deal with politics in your marriage? What tips do you have for making the conversations smooth?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Compatibility versus Working Hard

How big a role does compatibility play in marital success? Online dating sites and premarital counseling material are designed to determine how compatible a couple is. The thought is that the more you and your partner have in common, the more likely you are to be happy and have a long, successful marriage.

But what about the aphorism, "Opposites attract?" What would Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat have to say about compatibility tests? There is so much joy in discovering the differences that you and your partner have, being too "compatible" might prevent that.

Whether you're very similar to your mate or incredibly different, hard work is the answer. You can't replace work with compatibility or the novelty of being different. Either way you need to learn about each other, practice conversation, conflict resolution and showing love to each other.

How compatible are you with your spouse? How has that affected your relationship?

And here's the video for your enjoyment.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Power of Conversation

Where did all the conversation go? When you were dating, you couldn't stop talking. Every moment yielded a new, fascinating tid-bit about your beloved. You couldn't get enough information about them.

Now, you sit on the couch together and watch TV while you both check Facebook. The conversation is limited to the menu, calendar and money. It's a complete change from what you used to have. Where did it go?

It's not gone, but just hibernating. The saying, "familiarity breeds contempt" is all too true. We don't value what we have every day. But you can inject the value back into your marriage. Have a conversation. It could be five minutes of your life. Stop watching TV and talk about what you saw. Ask questions about the characters. Discuss whether you like the plot. Or, you can use a tool like The Book of Questions to spark the conversation (Andrea and I love this book).

Once you have a five minute conversation, you'll find a renewed interest in your spouse. The person who shares the couch with you is still interesting and insightful.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Win a Free Signed Copy of the Book!

We will give away one, free, signed copy of The Marriage Challenge to a person who comments on this blog post between now (if you can see these words, it's now or later) and 11:59pm Pacific Standard Time on Sunday, January 15th. We'll pick and announce the winner on Monday.

Rules: Leave any comment below, only one entry per person. Previous promotion winners are not eligible for future promotions for 6 months (Tim). The drawing will be determined by a random number generator or mice in a maze searching for Cheetos.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Talking about Sex

We have such a weird relationship with sex conversations. I don't know if it goes back to our country's puritanical roots or Victorian England or what, but we aren't good at talking in a frank, honest manner about sex. Sure it comes up in TV and movies a lot, but it's either the butt of a joke or erotically charged material designed to arouse. There's almost no real information about sex given in the mass media.

There's a stigma against sex in churches and schools that, I'm assuming, can only be traced back to the home. We aren't comfortable with talking about sex in our own homes. If the population numbers are anything to go by, people are having sex, but just not talking about it. Ed Stetzer, a pastor and church planter, notes that churches need to learn how to talk about sex. It's not possible to remain neutral. Messages about sex will be communicated, but right now those messages are that sex is a joke or something dirty.

What has your experience been in talking about sex? What do you think should change? Where should sex be discussed?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Free Shipping on Signed Copies

Hey, look over there to the right. Yup, that's a link to buy the print copy of The Marriage Challenge. But wait, what's that say, it's free shipping? Whoa, there tiger, free? That's right. What else does it say? Signed! You can get a signed copy of the book (with both James and Andrea scrawling their signatures) shipped to your door for only the cost of the book. But it's limited to the first 25 copies, so hurry up!

Also, type in that box if you want any special names or drawings with the signature. We'll do our best to accommodate.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Real Marriage by Mark Driscol

Mark Driscol, the controversial pastor from the Mars Hill church in Seattle, offers his thoughts on marriage in a new book. Real Marriage: The Truth about Sex, Friendship and Life Together collects Mark and Grace Driscoll's thoughts and feelings about marriage from a biblical perspective. I haven't read the book (yet), but I think it bears looking in to. If you want other opinions, you can find them easily online (here, here and here).

The major controversy about this book seems to be with the view of marriage, women and sexuality that Mark and Grace take. They come from a school of thought known as Complimentarian which affirms a biblical hierarchy of gender (i.e. men are above women), but that both sexes should compliment each other. Other people read the bible as Egalitarians which state that both men and women are equal according to the bible and have an equal role in marriage and the church.

How you see the roles of men and women will have an enormous affect on how you view marriage and how you treat your spouse. What's your view? Why?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

You Don't Need a Kindle to Read Kindle Books

One of the issues that people have brought up concerning the eBook is that they don't have a Kindle. That's okay, you don't need a Kindle to read a Kindle book. Amazon has made applications available for free for almost any device. So if you have an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android phone, Android tablet, Blackberry, Macintosh computer, Windows computer or a computer with a web browser, you can read Kindle books. That list should, hopefully, cover most everyone.

However, if you just aren't down with reading things electronically, wait and I'll get the physical book done just as soon as possible. I'm waiting to get the proof copies from the printer before I can finalize the design and get the physical books going.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Get The Marriage Challenge for Free with Amazon Prime

Amazon has a great deal for members of Amazon Prime: you can borrow books for free, including The Marriage Challenge: 52 Conversations for a Better Marriage. You do need to be using a Kindle device (Kindle Fire, Kindle XL, etc.) and have an Amazon Prime membership. But, if you have all your ducks in a row, you can check out books for free for up to one month.